What Factors Does USCIS Consider When Granting Immigration Status?
The factors that USCIS considers when granting immigration status depend entirely on the type of case that an individual has. Depending on the type of case, the immigration agency needs to see that they are eligible for that immigration benefit. For example, if somebody applies for a green card based on family relationship or employment sponsorship, they need to show proof that the associated petition was approved. They also need to prove that they were inspected and admitted into the US and that they don’t have a criminal record. If they have been arrested but the case was dismissed, then that is acceptable. Having any criminal convictions could be a red flag. However, this will depend on the actual conviction, type of criminal offense, whether or not they were incarcerated and how long the prison sentence was.
What Is The Difference Between Obtaining A Visa, Getting A Green Card And Becoming A US National?
Normally, when referring to a visa, we think of a non-immigrant visa. The green cards are called immigrant visas, but generally a visa is considered a temporary permission to enter the United States. For example, if somebody comes to the United States to study, they would need a student visa. If somebody comes to the United States to work, then the employer would have to file a petition to sponsor them for a work visa. Visas can be issued either in the United States by the immigration agency called USCIS (which should not be confused with getting a visa stamp in the passport, but it is rather a notice from USCIS that the visa status was approved) or at American Consulates abroad, these are the actual visa stamps which enable an individual to enter the United States and they are always issued for a temporary period of time. A green card is usually permanent; it gives an individual the right to permanently live and work in the United States.
Some individuals get conditional green cards for a limited period of time, which is two years. For example, if somebody is married to a US citizen, and the marriage was younger than two years when their case was approved, then they get a temporary green card for two years. In these cases, the individual has to file a petition to remove the conditions on the green card before the two years are up. But in general, a green card is a permanent right to live and work in the United States.
The difference between a green card and US citizenship is in the privileges that a green card holder has versus a US citizen. For example, US citizens have the right to vote in local and federal elections, they can apply for US government jobs, they are not subject to deportation and they can live outside the United States for an unlimited period of time without losing their green card holder status. A green card holder has the right to live and work in the US, has the right to travel in and out of the US without the need for a US visa to come back to the US, so simply put, the difference depends on what the person wants to do in the United States. So, to summarize: a United States citizen has the right to vote in US elections, whereas a green card holder does not; a United States citizen can apply and get US government jobs, while a green card holder cannot; a United States citizen does not face deportation (unless the US citizen status was revoked) while a green card holder can be placed in removal proceedings and be physically deported, most often due to criminal convictions called aggravated felonies if they have no immigration relief available to them.
So, we see clients who had a green card for 20 or 25 years, but never applied for US citizenship. Then, they get in trouble with the law and are incarcerated. If the criminal sentence is serious enough, and if they don’t have any other relief from deportation, then they can be deported from the United States. A US citizen cannot be deported.
What Steps Does Someone Need To Take To Initiate The Immigration Process?
If someone wants to immigrate to the United States and get a green card, they need to figure out what eligibility they have, and whether or not they have a family member or employer who wants to petition for them.
There are other kinds of immigration processes. For example, there are religious green cards, investment green cards, or the green card lottery that people apply for every year, usually in October. The DV lottery aka green card lottery has 50,000 green cards available each year, and about 15 million people participating in the lottery. Winning the DV lottery is the easiest way to start the immigration process to the United States.
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